Weekly Education Update 1/20-1/26

 Weekly Education Update

1/20-1/26

Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Libya, DRC

Sudan and South Sudan

The Sudanese defense minister, General Abdul Rahim Mohamed Hussien, has declared that his country is planning to start producing heavy weapons after it already ended dependence on purchases of small arms from outside.

The death toll resulting from the Monday, January 16th attack on Duk county of Dinka community by the Murle ethnic group in Jonglei state has risen to over 85 people confirmed dead and many more still missing as United Nations warns of hate statements. The attacks have displaced more than 20,000 people. The United Nations has expressed serious concerns over the plight of more than 120,000 people, mainly women and children believed to have been displaced by ethnic violence in Jonglei.

The government of South Sudan has decided to shut down all its oil production throughout the country in response to the action by Khartoum, which confiscated the oil as it flows through North Sudan pipelines. South Sudan said that it will continue to negotiate with Khartoum over post-independence issues despite announcing that it is stopping oil being exported through North Sudan over transit fees dispute. South Sudan has accused Sudan of seizing $815 million worth of crude oil.

A large group of youth protesters took to the streets of Bentui, the capital of South Sudan’s oil-rich Unity State, in support of the government’s decision to stop exporting oil through north Sudan.

A malaria and whooping cough outbreak in Jonglei State’s Duk County has killed 36 people over the last month with a further 761 cases under medical care in Pajut clinic.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees strongly condemned an air raid  against  Elfoj, a refugee camp of about 5,000 refugees, which reportedly occurred in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State on Monday, January 23rd. The strike wound one boy and left fourteen people missing.

Syria and Libya

The Arab League announced Thursday that it planned to take a proposed peace plan to the United Nations, calling for Syrian President Bashar-Al-Assad to step down from power, and for the formation of a transitional unity government within two months time. Britain, France and the United States are also pursuing condemnatory actiontowards the Syrian regime within the United Nations Security Council, however the Russian Foreign Ministry has stated that Russia remains opposed to the imposition of sanctions upon Syria as well as the prospect of military intervention.

The Arab League has renewed its investigate mission in Syria, extending the initiative to February 23rd, with Syrian approval. However, the investigators of six countries, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, who comprise the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will be departing Syria despite the mission’s extension, owing to insufficient progress in stopping violence on the ground and the physical dangers of the ongoing violence within Syria. The departure of these observers will leave the League mission with only about a third of its original strength.

Violence has continued unabated throughout Syria this week with BBC News reporting some 60 deaths on Tuesday, the 24th of January. A further 24 were reported dead on Wednesday amid a sweep by security forces in the city of Hama and fierce fighting between Security forces and defecting troops of the Free Syrian Army. Further, Reuters has reported that sporadic clashes between security forces and Free Syrian army troops have beenongoing in Duoma, not far from the Syrian capital of Damascus. Among those killed in this week’s violence was the head of the Syrian Red Crescent, Dr. Abd-al-Razzaq Jbeiro, who was killed while driving a marked vehicle on a roadbetween Damascus and Idlib. Further, Greek Orthodox priest Rev. Basilious Nasser was shot and killed in the streets of Hama on Wednesday. The Syrian government laid blame for the attacks on “armed terrorist groups” while the opposition sources reported the priest to have been shot by government forces.

Reuters reported Thursday on the explosion of instances of kidnapping in Syrian cities, particularly in the city of Homs, since the beginning of the Syrian unrest. While many of the present instances have not yet come to violence, the kidnappings are reported to none the less be largely sectarian in nature. Opposition sources reporting that in particular, pro-regime Alawite militias known as shabbiha, have been responsible for numerous kidnappings. Other instances however, have been undertaken strictly for monetary purposes.

BBC News reports that four people were killed in the Libyancity of Bani Walid on Monday. Bani Walid’s local council head declared that the deaths were the result of clashes between militias and the remaining remnants of pro-Gaddafi fighters in the area, however these claims were rebuked by the transitional Libyan government which asserted that the deaths were the result of clashes between rival militias and that pro-Qaddafi fighters were not involved; the violence allegedly breaking out after a disputed arrest, and that the defeated militia was actually backing the transitional government. In addition, Medecins Sans Frontieres reported Thursday that it has suspended its activity in Libya in protest of ongoing torture of prisoners conducted by Libyan militia groups. Amnesty International has claimed that several prisoners have died under torture since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi, with the central Libyan government having relatively limited oversight over the some 60 detention centers scattered throughout Libya. Owing to such reports, the United Nations has concerns about the conditions under which Libyan prisoners are presently being held.

DRC 

After contesting the November election results and holding his own swearing-in ceremony on December 24th, Tshisekedi has announced that he plans to form a rival government this week. He said he is “obliged to form a government on the basis of necessity and urgency and to govern by decree until elected institutions are put in place on the basis of a real population census and organization of elections on all levels”. 

The legislative poll results have been postponed “until further notice”. 

Washington has started showing support for a power-sharing agreement between Kabila and Tshisekedi. The only problem is, neither Kabila nor Tshisekedi has shown any interest. Jason Stearns notes that it’s difficult to see how a power-sharing deal would be pushed through, due to deep divisions within both donors and the opposition party. It would also not resolve issues surrounding the flawed elections. Stearns suggests four options: declare the elections null and void and hold new polls, recount the ballots, disregard the presidential poll and salvage the legislative elections or do nothing. Right now, The US seems intent on the power-sharing agreement, while European powers such as Belgium have given up on the process all together and South Africa remains pro-Kabila. However the first three options will all require international support and funding, so the path forward remains unclear. 

South African police arrested 150 members of the Congolese diaspora last week in Johannesburg after clashes erupted between Kabila’s and Tshisekedi’s supporters. However there are already allegations that the arrests were politically motivated, as the majority of arrests were of Tshisekedi’s supporters. "The government of the DRC wants to silence Congolese that were campaigning for democracy in the DRC here in South Africa," said Jean-Pierre Lukamba, the deputy chairman of the African Diaspora Forum.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) continues to voice concern over the influx of Congolese displaced internally and internationally due to violence. In the North and South Kivu provinces, over 100,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes since November alone. In Masisi in Walikale, where 35,000 have been displaced, a recent outburst of violence resulted in the deaths of at least 22 civilians and an unknown number of rapes. 

Doctors without Borders (MSF) announced that 86% of HIV-positive Congolese have no access to life-saving anti-retroviral medication. Out of a population of 68 million, more than a million have contracted the virus yet only 350,000 received drug therapy last year. ARV’s are crucial to ensure that HIV-positive people continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but also can be coupled with cheap drug therapy to prevent the transmission from mother to child. Yet only 1% of all pregnant women in the country were on ARVs last year. MSF said, “The conditions of access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS in the Democratic Republic of Congo are catastrophic.” One problem is the high price of ARVs, as international donors like the Global Fund have been forced to pull out of the country due to the economic climate.

Protesters from over 25 states gathered in Washington D.C. to protest the legitimacy of the November elections and urge President Obama to help restore Congolese leadership. 

The education update is produced every Thursday to update STAND members and the advocacy community about developments with regards to genocide and crimes against humanity.  For more information contact the following:

Education Coordinator: Sean Langberg education@standnow.org 

Sudan Education Coordiator: Emma Smith esmith@standnow.org

DRC Education Coordinator: Siobhan Kelley skelley@standnow.org

Emerging Crises Education Coordinator: Tom Dolzall tdolzall@standnow.org 

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